Jet Bike racing at BOYL – post mortem

Picture from Ramshackle Games

At this year’s BOYL I ran another jet bike race on the Helsreach table. We had at least 15 players, so the rules had to be very fast moving. At the beginning of each turn, all the players decide how fast they are going, typically 36″-72″ – these are fast machines. They are then moved in order, from front to back, with each player rolling to see how many hazards they can avoid. If the total move takes them past more hazards than they are allowed, they roll on each subsequent hazard to see whether they squeeze past or crash.

We had a very successful game (at least everyone seemed to enjoy it, and gameplay zoomed along appropriately). I had adjusted the rules from the previous year, and based on this year, I think it needs some further adjustments.

The first issue was that it wasn’t quite dangerous enough. Pretty much everyone finished, in spite of some seriously reckless play. The handling chart meant that many players who were putting down huge speeds were automatically getting zero hazards avoided, which meant that they rolled a d6 for each hazard:
1, 2 – No penalty
3 – Stop
4, 5 – Handling Penalty
6 – Collision
The handling penalties didn’t make much difference (because they were getting zero hazards anyway), the collision was relatively unlikely, so what typically happened is they would get a Stop at some point. In other words, instead of hurtling to a fiery death, they just went slower than they wanted to, which wasn’t really the right end result.

So, I’ve slid the whole chart along one point, and it’s now a lot nastier:
1 – No penalty
2 – Stop
3, 4 – Handling Penalty
5, 6 – Collision

I’ve also applied a Failure roll modifier at higher speeds, 72″ or above is -1, and 96″ or above is -2, further reducing the chances of a massive run resulting in anything but a battered fireball.

Finally the bandings were a bit crude, they jumped up in 12″ speed bands – it’s easy enough to expand the chart, so I’ve gone to 6″ bands in the most common range.

Some other minor tweaks to damage results:

  1. As one unlucky player pointed out, the ‘spin out and miss a turn’ result is actually very bad in the context of a one-off race. I’ve moved it higher up the chart, although it’s still in ‘minor’.
  2. Accelerator damage wasn’t bad enough. The minimum speed it inflicted didn’t make any difference because everyone was going faster than that anyway.
  3. The fire wasn’t bad enough – the races are so short they will probably only take a couple of minor damage, so it now starts off with two minor damage.
  4. Power unit needed changing for the same reason. Now explodes on a 9 or 10 on handling roll (i.e. if you roll really well you explode – cruel eh?)
  5. Engine malfunction was a bit boring – bike limps along at 12″. Now if you get 6+ on handling roll it does 12″, otherwise full distance. So if you roll well, you don’t go anywhere, if you roll badly, you shoot off and probably crash.

If you didn’t play in the game then the above won’t mean much to you, so the best thing to do is to have a go yourself. You just need some jet bikes, a table with obstacles on, and something to mark out the course.

Here’s a link to the Quick Play / Reference sheet which should be enough to get you going. I’ve got a more comprehensive set of rules in draft, including a wide range of add-ons for the bikes.

Reference Sheet PDF v3


3 comments to Jet Bike racing at BOYL – post mortem

  • Eddie

    Hullo Aidan!

    Just started looking at jetbikes, and saw the ones at Ramshackle Games – perfect for what I need! I want to build some bikes and run a race at the HMGS Historicon convention next summer, and would like to use the rules you have for racing. I have the pdf file that you posted, which is a great start and looks like enough to hand out to the racers, but is there more info/rules that you are planning on publishing?

    I have used “Future Race” rules in the past, when I ran some pod racing games (inspired by Star Wars, naturally), but I am looking for the bigger models and different “feel” that the jetbikes have. I won’t be using as big a board as you had at BOYL (which I guess stands for something), and am not sure what I will use for hazards, aside from cliffs, rock outcrops and arches, and other jetbikes…Possibly some spectators in grav vehicles, course umpires on hoverboards, drunken/crazed ground units with weapons, or whatever I can make up. What did you use?

    Looking forward to building an assortment of racing jetbikes and running some games! Thanks for the inspiration!!!


    • Aidan

      There are some rules for bike power ups but that sheet pretty much covers it. The hazards on our course were just buildings and narrow gaps, so they were just a measure of how hard it would be to manoeuvre round them. If the table is small you should make the course more twisty and hazardous to slow them up.

  • Aidan,

    Please post more of the rules. I have a bunch of Ramshackle jet bikes that need to race.


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